Christmas with Kaden

One day my mom came down stairs to find Kaden busily occupied with something a little out of the ordinary. 
This is what she saw:
A Nutcracker tied up with white yarn to bulldozer,
and Playmobile Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus in a rescue boat.

"Kaden, what is this?" she asked.
"Well," he replied, "Him, (pointing to the nutcracker) Him made bad choices, so him had to go to jail."
Then Mom turned to Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus.
Turns out, this year they're speeding away to escape Herod in a rescue raft.
Hmmmm... What do I make of this?
All I know his that Kaden has a wonderful imagination!

Naptime Conversations - My Joy

Ahhh, the joys of being a big sister!
Right now I'm sitting in Bethany and Kaden's room just talking and talking away.
It's naptime, and I'm babysitting.
A wonderful thing about being a big sister is that I can spoil my siblings a little.
Not totally, of course, but I love to do it occasionally.
We're talking about my favorite thing - God and salvation.
It started when Kaden had a mini-melt down over going up for rest time.
He came up, but he kept telling me he was mad and frustrated.
I had two choices; I could brush it off and order him to go to sleep (and get the big sister of the year award, of course!), or I could talk it out with him.
I chose to talk it out.
We talked and talked.
I prayed for him and thanked God that his is my brother.  I prayed that God would take away the frustration and anger in his heart.
After praying, Kaden said he was still angry.
I explained that God would take the bad feelings away, if Kaden would let him.
I explained to Kaden had to chose to open his heart to God and allow him to take away the bad feelings.
It makes me so strangely thankful for what I've been through in my life.
Now I have the knowledge to speak from what I've experienced and what God has taught me.
I learned from experience just this past week about opening your heart to God, being vulnerable, and allowing him to come into your heart and heal you. 
I was taught this by the Holy Spirit during a painful spiritual attack I'm planning to post about soon.
We talked for so long - we're actually still taking as I type. 
It's an hour past naptime, and I don't really care.  (hope you don't mind either, Mom! :/ )
We're talking heart to heart, and its so worth it. 
It confirms what I've been feeling.
I feel so called to mission work among children, and that what I'm planning to go to college to learn to do better.
Sharing how the Lord has worked in my life is my passion, and I feel so fulfilled and alive doing it.
I want to share what I'm learning with those who are struggling and need encouragement.
There are so many dreams that God has placed on my heart, and I'm so thrilled that they are beginning to happen.
I'm growing faster than I ever have in my life spiritually, and God's been working mightily, healing me of so much.
Friends, I want to encourage you in the dreams and plans that you have.
What dreams has God placed on your heart?
What is He calling you to do?
Are you struggling with something, or do you need encouragement, or prayer?
Don't be afraid to ask for it.
I'd love to email or talk with anyone of you that needs help with something.
Please just comment below, and I'll certainly try to get back to you.
Summing up, I'll leave you with this:
"Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power."  - Ephesians 6:10

Melt my Heart - A Kaden Update

Sweet, amazing Kaden.
Life with Kaden is so good.  And rewarding.  And exhausting. 
He's always done so amazingly well being home.
He has his days, of course, but all of us do.
He's learning right from wrong, and, like I mentioned in the last post, is our family's police man when it comes to "making good choices" and rescuing people. :)
And like any boy,
Kaden gets mad.  He gets his feelings hurts, and he gets sad.
He has needs like other children his age, but his needs are often met differently than the average child.
He needs security, predictability, and love.
He needs those things in ways that other kids don't.
He needs time to pretend to be a baby, and experience the love and innocents that babies get.
He needs to know that we will always have food to eat, and that he will never go hungry.
He needs to be allowed to "save" some of his food for later, if he feels the need to do so.
While we let him do that, we also try to stress that fact that it is unnecessary.
He will always be able to eat when he is hungry.
And he needs love.
He needs to know that we will always love him.
Always.  No matter what.
When he makes poor decisions, we love him.
When he has to be disciplined, we love him.
When he doesn't get his way and throws a fit, we love him.
Last night Kaden was crying.
He said that he thought I wouldn't "be his friend anymore", simply because he was acting up when it was time for bed.
Kaden, sweet Kaden, I will always love you. 
You are my brother, and nothing you could do will make that love disappear.
And so, the "Melt my heart" part of this post:
I have special goggles I use when I swim.
Most goggles hurt my eyes, but these don't.
It just so happens that Kaden loves these goggles.
It also just so happens that Kaden breaks things very easily.
Because of these two factors, I try to keep said goggles out of sight in my room.
Today Kaden found them, and was playing rescue (his FAVORITE game)  with them.
I sat down next to him and explained that those goggles could be easily broken and asked for them back.
Kaden gave them back easily, but got upset.
He started looking for his handcuffs, and when he couldn't find them, he got a rope and pretended to "put me in jail".
Bethany jumped to my rescue and ended up in "jail" (a closet) with me.
I thanked her for trying to rescue me and she said,
"It's ok.  'Cause youse is my favorite sister."
That sure melted my heart, but that's not even the best part yet.
Eventually we got out of "jail" and the little ones went down for their naps.
When Kaden woke up, he went downstairs to find me.
"Brittany," he said, rubbing sleep out of his eyes, "I sorry for bein' mean to you."
Oh.  My.
I quickly hugged him, told him I loved him, and ran up to tell my mom.
"He came in here first thing after he woke up," she said. "He told me that needed to go tell you he was sorry.  He's probably been thinking about it all of rest time."
Even now my mind fails to grasp all of this.
His heart, his loving, trustful, sweet heart... Folks, my little brother is pretty awesome.
Though it's hard to see it some days, Kaden is simply mind blowing.
I need to try harder to step back and appreciate what a treasure we have in our little man.

Bethany and Kaden Conversations

Kaden is all about being the police man of the family.
He has decided it is his job to make sure everyone in the family "Does good choices".
Yesterday I was typing up some school work on the computer when I overheard Kaden talking to Bethany.
He had her sitting down in front of him, his pretend handcuffs on her wrists.
The toy of offense was next to them, and Kaden had a serious frown on his face.
The conversation went something like this:
Kaden:  why you do bad choices, Defany?
Bethany:  Me wanted to play with this.
Kaden:  but I was playing with it first.
Bethany:  No, me was.
Kaden:  No, I.
Mom: Kaden, do you want a snack?
Kaden:  Wust a minute, Mom!  Defany, don’t do bad choices, ok? You not want to go to jail.
Bethany: (sighing) ok.
I completely cracked up hearing this!
Sometimes I forget how absolutely hilarious these conversations are when I hear them several times a day.
I need to take a minute and simply enjoy the stage we are at now as a family.
I love it!

A Dream about my Lost Brother

The title of this post may have grabbed your attention.
To clear things up, I want to tell you that the boy I will talk about was never certainly going to be my brother.
I will give more details later, but although he was never officially my big brother, he will always be in my heart.
That being said, here is the post I had planned to write:
Last night I had a vivid dream.
Before I tell it, I want to give you a pit of background.
After my parent were married, they hosted a sweet, young boy from Belarus in the summer.
His name was Stas.
He began coming home to spend summer with my family, before I was born, when he was 8 years old.

In fact, Stas was here in the US with my parents when I was at the time of my birth. 
It was a work of God for us through him that I was born at home instead of in VA.
My parent were going to Virginia to see family for July 4th, but Stas suddenly got a high fever and my parents decided to wait. 
And then I was born unexpectantly the next day 6 weeks prematurely on July 3d.
God worked for me and my parents through this sweet little boy, and I will always have him to thank for that, among other thing. 

Stas came every year for 10 wonderful summers.
My parents and I (though my parents remember it better) had the privilege of seeing Stas grow up from a sweet little 8 year old, to an even-sweeter-still 18 year old.
One year my little 6 year-old heart was broken when my big brother, Stas, never showed up.
I have missed him every year since.

Stas was wonderful.
My parents could speak more to this, I have absolutely ZERO memories of Stas misbehaving or giving us a hard time.
What I remember is my "big brother" playing baby dolls with Brandon and me,
swimming in the pool with him, his sincere smile,
 and - maybe my favorite - Stas reading Brandon and me a story book in Belarusian and not being fazed when we laughed our heads off because of how funny the language sounded to us.

And then he would leave.
I don't remember many of the early years,
but I do remember one year when I woke up early (after he had left) and I went upstairs to his room.
All his things were gone.
Every toy was put away.
Every trace of him vanished.
I looked for a picture of him, and couldn't find even that.
That may have been the last year he ever came.
Somehow my 6 year-old heart knew that I'd never see him again on earth.

Stas had a special possession.
It was a stuffed animal Pooh Bear, who he would never take back to Belarus with him for fear of it getting stolen.
 He loved it, and I, as young as I was, could see that.
Years after he left the last time, I gathered Brandon and David in my room and showed them the Pooh Bear. 
I told them how Stas had cherished it.
Then I told them that I had promised to myself that I would keep it for him every year until he returned.  I would not let it get thrown or given away.
I was Stas's, and Stas's it would remain.

But, in my dream,
I was standing in our playroom (of our new house, which Stas has never seen) with my parents.
Kaden and Bethany were there playing as well.
I turned around, and there was Stas, about 16 years old, not saying a word, only standing there with a huge smile on his face and joy in his eyes.
My mouth dropped open and I just stood there, speechless.
Words escaped me and I didn't know what to do.
Not like the awkward silence that occurs when someone forgets their line in a play or anything.
No, it was nothing like that. 
It was a total, joyous overpowering that rendered me speechless.
Suddenly, I ran from the room to get something.
I came back with the Pooh Bear, and placed it in his hands.
And then my dream ended.

In my dream, Stas looked exactly like this

I don't know what exactly it means.
Maybe I will see Stas again on earth.
Maybe God's trying to tell me that I'm released from my promise, as simple as it may be.
Maybe Stas has found a family wherever he is.
Perhaps I can stop remembering him with the twinge of sadness over my loss.
Whatever it may be, I know that God has it under control, and I can simply trust him.
I love you, Stas!

Music Video - Journey to My Promise (One Thousand Years by Christina Perri)

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
I hope every one of you had a wonderful holiday.
I want to share this music video Bethany, David, Kaden and I made yesterday.
The song is by Christina Perri.
I found it while watching Frozen clips on YouTube with Bethany:)
The song is amazing,
and is the exact story to how I found Bethany - part of my treasured promise.
I feel guilty because so often I celebrate Bethany and what a wonderful gift she is, while not acknowledging Kaden enough.
He is a treasure too!
So while this song is about Bethany, know that Kaden is my answered prayer too, and we love him to death.
With that,
Enjoy the video!
(and feel free to share!)

Bethany Update

Oh, Bethany...
My beautiful, beautiful sister...
How we all love you!
We are completely smitten around here with Bethany!
She is 2.5 years old, and such a darling!
I am happy to report that Bethany is potty trained!
Except for naptime and at night, Bethany is completely diaper free.
My mom could speak more to this, but I personally like the way Bethany was potty trained.
My mom waited until she was ready (and for summer - less clothes that way!),
and introduced the potty, explaining how it was used. 
 The next step was to simply take her diaper off and show her that she could use the "big girl potty."
Yes, there were accidents, but for the most part, Bethany did great!
After a couple months of this, she is always using the potty and can do it on her own, although we are always nearby to help if needed.
I am also very happy that Bethany is out of the "NO!" stage.
Again, it comes back occasionally, but at this point we rarely here her yelling it.
With Kaden at 1/2 day Montessori school, we no longer need a nanny during the morning.
Brandon, David and I take turns with Bethany in the mornings during school time.
This works for us.
During this time, we don't have to entertain Bethany, exactly, but it is our job to be available if she needs anything.
I usually work on school at my desk and set her up with Play Dough or something similar.  
She does amazing with playing quietly by herself. 
Sometimes it is mind blowing for me to see her laying on her stomach quietly coloring!
One thing that we are working on with Bethany is her eating.
Bethany LOVES  juice.
She could just drink, drink, drink all day.
But she gets full of juice and won't eat,
so we are working with her to help her with that.
When Bethany was younger, we were a bit concerned about her speech.
We shouldn't have been, though!
As soon as we had her speech evaluated, she took off orally, and has NO problem talking now!
One thing that I love is that I can really enjoy Bethany now.
When I was sick, I honestly couldn't at all.
My life was consumed by my eating disorder, and I remember crying because I finally had what I always wanted - a baby sister- and I couldn't enjoy her.
Thankfully, I'm making up for that now and honestly love the time I spend with my baby girl.
So, here's a little update on our Bethany.
If you haven't already picked it up I hope you can see that
we absolutely love her to death, and I cant imagine life without her.

Bethany Quote 8

"I like Brittany... some days."
Ehhh, I better work on that!
But I love Bethany everyday!

God at Work! Big News for Me

I have some exciting news to share!
The story behind it is amazing...
God has shown himself so very real, and it takes my breath away.
Several weeks ago,
I was sitting in our church youth group.
The main pastor of our church was preaching there for the first time in 5 years.
Out of the blue, as he preached, I heard God tell me,
"Go to Nicaragua."
I was confused.
Was this God?
or was this just me?
A bit of background...
I went on my first missions trip to the Dominican Republic in 2010, when I was almost 11.
The trip went well, and left and good impression in my mind.
After coming out of treatment, when I was 13-14, I went through an identity crisis.
I tried to figure out who I used to be, who I was then, and who I wanted to be.
I didn't know "what I wanted to be when I grew up," and it bothered me.
This was a very hard time in my life.
Those 1.5 years of anorexia left a scar on me and my family.
It was a time I will never forget, and I don't think I'd want to if I could.
That time, as horrible as it was, molded me and made me a better person.
It is teaching me reliance on God and how vital surrender to Him is in life.
I still have much work to do,
but healing is taking place in my life.

coming out of that time has shown me how important hope and joy is in life,
especially to those who are hopeless.
That, as well as many other things, points me to life as an overseas missionary.
That is the job for me, and I am more excited about it then anything.
The details are still coming together,
but unless God leads me otherwise,
I will go to a missions school after high school, and go on to do mission work.
Just clarifying, this isn't happening yet.
It is still a few years down the road, but it is my plan, and, I think, God's will.

Back to the story: 
I kept what I heard to myself for a few days, only asking my Mom if she knew much about the Nicaragua..
I found out that she's actually been there, and learned a bit about country.
Later that week I was looking at a random blog, and saw pictures of a trip taken to Nicaragua.
I then told my mom what had happened that Wednesday,
and we decided to keep it in mind and see if anything would come of it.
Several weeks past.
I felt called to a malnutrition site in Uganda, and talked my parents about letting me go this summer.
After discussing it, we came to the conclusion that it wasn't the right time for that.
That night, I went to the website of a youth pastor who visited me in treatment.
He takes groups on missions trips in the summer, and I was curious what he was up to.
I was astonished when I saw where they were going...
I excitedly shared the news, and received positive feedback from my family.
I emailed the group asking for more information.
You can imagine my amazement when, the reply told me that their music was going to my youth group that night.
Completely out of the blue, and it can only be God who orchestrated it.
My youth group very rarely has other groups come to speak at it, and his group hadn't been there in a couple years.

I thought about my youth group, and the trip they were taking this summer.
I had heard a rumor that they were going to Jamaica,
and wondered how they'd feel about me going with another youth group on a separate trip.
Of course it didn't really matter, but I felt awkward. 

This part of the story, a long with the rest of it, just spells out GOD.
Only God.
That night, my youth group announced that they were going with Maximum Missions, (the youth group going to Nicaragua) to Nicaragua!

and the news:
I am going to Nicaragua this summer!

I am utterly speechless, but more that that, overwhelmingly excited.
To be shown God's hand in such away leaves me breathless.
We serve and amazing God, don't we friends?

I know it has been a long post, but thank you for reading it to the end.
Please keep me and my church in your prayers.
God's hand is at work, and I am so excited to see how he will use us.
As the apostle Paul would say,
"Peace be with you!"

A Change... I need your Input

In the beginning,
my blog was a place to record family memories and to document our journey through life.
I have enjoyed posting Bethany and Kaden Quotes,
and writing about my family's life.
This may sound a little selfish,
but I have rarely written about me.
About my journey through life, and how I feel about my family's journey.
That is going to change.
I began to rethink the reason I have a blog.
At the start, in 2011, I begged my parents to let me start a blog.
I loved to read about other families and their adoption journey, even though my own family hadn't started our adoption process yet.
I was so inspired and encouraged when I read what genuine people wrote about their beliefs and their walk with God.
Those people have an amazing gift,
and I want to try to develop my gift of writing.
I want to write vulnerably, from deep in my heart.
And so,
I am now going to start writing more of my journey and my honest, true thoughts.
I will still be posting a lot about Bethany, Kaden, and the rest of the family,
but I am a part of the Gilbarte family, and I will use my voice, too.
So please, tell me what you want me to write about!
I want to hear your opinion, and any suggestions, tips or ideas you have.
And I have some exciting news to post soon!
(And no, we aren't adopting again... yet.:))


When I was 2, I begged for a dog.
I was always told, "When you're eight you can get one, when you're eight."
8 years old could come fast enough for me. 
Finally it happened, and now, nearly 8 years into life with Whitey, I can more clearly see the pros and cons of our dog.
He's usually a sweet dog.
He doesn't like kids he doesn't know, and will growl at them.
He doesn't bite (usually).
His growl scares little kids.
He likes to snuggle
He won't usually come when called.
he's an easy dog to have around the house.
When he's mad, he'll raid the trash cans...and our guests suitcases. 
 (sorry about your hat, Pop!)
I don't think I'll get another dog after Whitey. 
I've learned that dogs are a large responsibility and take work and time.
I am very thankful, though, that my parents gave me the opportunity to have a dog and learn what it is like.
Whitey is like my baby, and I'm thankful for my him and the learning opportunity he has provided.

The Sky - God's Canvas

I've often wondered if God specifically designs how to sky looks each day,
or if the sky kind of just happens.
I'll probably never know until I get to heaven,
but I'm beginning to suspect the sky is "painted" by God every day.
One night this week - I think it was Thursday- I took Bethany and Kaden out on a walk.
The sky was amazing and only got more spectacular as the night went on.
The days following, I've paid more attention to the sky.
It has been so amazingly beautiful recently.
If God does "paint" the sky, He's created some masterpieces recently.
I believe that God reveals special truths to young children, who have the faith accept them without question.  I've asked Kaden what he thinks about certain subjects recently, and I've enjoying hearing his insight.
I asked Kaden how he thought the sky was made so beautifully,
and he answered with hesitation that
"God makes it that way."
I'll leave you with pictures that display God's masterpieces.
I hope you'll be as inspired by them as I am.

Our trip to Vullmer Farm

This post was inspired by Mrs. Tara.  Thanks, for the prompt!
This past Friday we went with a local homeschool group to a farm about an hour from our house.
Vullmer Farm is an amazing and super fun place to go as a family or with a school.
It has a mini zip line, underground slide, huge corn box, corn maze, hay ride, animals, butter making station, and so, so much more!
We all had a great time with friends and our family.
I was also able to get some really nice pictures!
We had a great time at the farm!
Have you been on any good field trips recently?

Kaden Quote 21 - Life Lessons from a Five Year Old

lick, lick, scarf, scarf, scarf.
I turned around and, to my horror, saw our dog, Whitey, on the table eating someone's dinner.
"BAD DOG!" I yelled at him, running to try to save what was left on the plate.
"Him's not a bad dog!" Kaden yelled, "Brittany, you know that? 
Him's a dog, and dogs do that.  Him's not a people.  He's not bad, because dogs do that a lot.
Dog's... well... dogs, if you get a pet, them's going to do that."
That stopped me dead in my tracks.
How can a five year old be so smart?!
Our dog is not bad.  Our dog is simply a dog, and dogs do things like that.
That doesn't make him bad.
We as people do bad things, and that makes us people, that doesn't make us bad.
It is in our fallen nature to be sinful and to make wrong choices.
That's why we need Jesus to turn our old selves into someone new.
I'll in this post in a song about dogs Kaden wrote and wanted me to type up.  Here it is:
"Dogs have a tail, and they lick, dogs do that.  They want special treats, because him's a dog.
Lelma-laid, it taste good, its so strong.  God is strong.  God makes special things. 
God's so powerful, powerful and strong, because him died on the cross. 
But he did not stay dead,
now we don't have to be dead, because he choose to save us."
Kaden is. amazing.

My Prayer - Answered!

This is a school paper that I wrote as part of my creative writing class.
I want to share it here, as I feel it shows my heart towards my sister.
Though this is about Bethany, I want to make it very clear that I feel the same way about Kaden, and that he is every bit as much of an answered prayer and blessing.
It was because of the assignment requirements that I do not mention him in this paper.
That being said, please enjoy!
As I gaze down at the treasure sitting contently in my lap, I become keenly aware of something. My dream, my hope, my prayer, has been answered.  I think back to the years of waiting, hoping and dreaming that slowly slid away as I waited.  Even now the truth has yet to penetrate my brain.  My dream has been realized, and yet I fail to realize it. “Do you know who that is?” I ask, twisting one of her braids in my finger. 
“That’s baby me!” She exclaims, recognizing the picture. 
“Yes,” I say, “that is baby you.”  I stop there.   Her two-year-old mind isn’t quite ready to take in the words that have been collecting in brain.  The day will come when we both will be ready; she will be ready to hear, and I to tell.  I want to be able to tell her adequately how cherished she is.  How she is the answer to years of prayer.  How she helps to light the spark that sets the fire in my heart alive.  Her story isn’t mine to tell, but I have a role in it. 
As I have a role in her story, she has a role in mine.  My story goes back to the early years of my childhood, and creeps on up to today.  It goes back to my three-year-old self praying at night for a baby sister.  It goes back to my eight-year-old self longing for a baby to love.  It goes back to my twelve-year-old self, trusting that my prayer would be answered.  And it comes up to today, as my answered prayer sits in my lap. 
So many times I have taken this for granted.  So many times my selfishness doesn’t recognize the miracle of her.  I get caught up in the day-to-day living and fail to make the most of every moment.  Love is a choice that I must make, and today I choose to make it.  I choose to embrace every stage, every day, and every opportunity.  It is not a one-time decision, but one that I must make every day.  I have made my choice, and I choose to love. 

2 Years Home!

This second year of Kaden and Bethany being home as absolutely flown by!
We've had a really great year with them, and have seen them both develop and grow,
both in character and physically.
I think back to this night 2 years ago.
We were all so excited for our parents to come home with "Kadi" and "Baby Jilma".
As excited as I was, I was lightly nervous and apprehensive. 
What would this be like?
Our life would be completely different now...
What would we do with them all day?
Would Mom and Dad have any time for us anymore?
I never asked these questions, even to myself, but they were subconsciously running through my mind.
Then they pulled into the driveway.
Slowly they got of the car.
As soon as I saw 5 month old Bethany - my baby sister - all my subconscious fears instantly vanished.
I held her for the first time a few seconds later, and I was in love.
This was my sister, my answered prayer, the one I had waited for years to love.
And Kaden....
Oh, the little toddler he was then.
It is absolutely crazy to look back at picture and videos and to see what an absolute baby he was then.
He has grown so much and has completely transformed. 
He has been such an amazing joy and blessing, even through the sometimes trying times.
We are so unspeakably thankful for the gifts we have been given through Kaden and Bethany.
We love them so very much and cannot imagine our lives without them. 
Our day was packed full of fun!
Kaden called a meeting and together we came up with a list of things to do to celebrate.
Amazingly, we've done everything on the list!

Our day began with a special breakfast, then a trip to the park to play and take pictures, with Subway for lunch.  Next we came home to play outside, make jello, have shrimp for dinner, and end our special day with looking at pictures and videos from Congo before playing Baby Kaden and going to bed.
One of my greatest treasures... enough said.
this year
Last year
Two years ago! 
We also made Jello!  Although it didn't turn out quite right, it was fun!
Jon got into it too!
Kaden and Bethany,
We love you SO. VERY. MUCH. 
You are amazing blessings in our lives, and we can't image our lives with out you.
We love you!